Are The New Starbucks Cups A Statement About the 2016 Election?

By Mike Pomranz |

Courtesy of Starbucks, artist Joshua Trujillo

It’s the most con-tro-ver-sial time of the yeeeaaar. I’m speaking, as you are probably all well aware, of the annual reveal of Starbucks holiday season cups. Nothing gets people more riled up than learning just how the coffee giant plans on undermining Christmas this year.

It wasn’t always like this, you know. For the record, Starbucks is not even legally required to serve its beverages in different cups during the winter holidays than it does the rest of the year. But since 1997, Starbucks has chosen to use special cups starting in November to spread some seasonal cheer. Those first holiday cups were “a jazz-themed design in jewel tones of deeper reds, greens and blues,” according to the company, and they’ve been different every year since “featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand-drawn reindeer to modern vector-illustrated characters.”

Last year, Starbucks tried a new unique spin: “Taking a cue from customers who have been doodling designs on cups for years … this year’s design is another way Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas,” the brand wrote at the time.

And, as you probably remember, everyone lost their shit.

So what is a massive coffee company idiotically under siege for supposedly destroying Christmas supposed to do this year? The answer, it appears, is mess with our minds.

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Last week, a photo popped up on the Starbucks section of Reddit, a place where baristas often discuss everything ‘Bucks, purporting to show this year’s new red cups. As one might expect, the cups were once again a bit more festive, featuring leaves, branches, some berries (that nearly-but-not-quite resemble holly) and a bird. You can’t go wrong with a bird! Starbucks wouldn’t confirm if the posted image really was the new design, however, more responsible Starbucks employees confirmed that the cups had arrived, instead posting pics of boxes labeled with “No peeking until November 10,” according to Business Insider.

In the meantime, though, Starbucks announced the immediate release of another new cup design: Starting today, and while supplies last, the coffee chain will be offering up a special green cup that “celebrates community.” That sounds nice, but what exactly does that mean? “The green cup and the design [a single line drawing that connects multiple figures] represent the connections Starbucks has as a community with its partners (employees) and customers,” said Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. “During a divisive time in our county, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other.”

Based on that quote, these new cups seem like a statement on the election. And as Howard Schultz has been an outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter we can at least make a guess as to what the cups' message might be.

In the end, Starbucks most likely never intended to make a statement about Christmas with last year’s red cups. But with this year’s green cups, the company clearly doesn’t mind making a statement about the election. And then, a couple days after election is over, on November 10, everyone with get their oh-so-important festive red cups – with a damn bird. Are you happy now?

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